Shane Williams at a recent rates rally in Stanthorpe holding his petition, which is about to be tabled in State Parliament.
Shane Williams at a recent rates rally in Stanthorpe holding his petition, which is about to be tabled in State Parliament.

Rates petition in State's hands

AFTER months of protesting, lobbying and making a very loud noise across the region, Stanthorpe businessman Shane Williams’ petition against this year’s rates rise will be tabled in State Parliament this week.

The bowling alley entrepreneur led a wave of criticism calling for the heads of the Southern Downs Regional Councillors he blames for crippling rate rises following the merging of two different rating systems into one.

Almost 2200 people have signed the petition for councillors to step down and for rates to be at last year’s level until a “fairer” system is ironed out.

Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Southern Downs MP Lawrence Springborg told the Daily News he was given the petition, has handed it in and it should be tabled this week.

However, he refused to pile the blame onto local councillors, instead swiping at the Bligh Government’s forced amalgamations.

Media reports yesterday demonstrated the scale of the amalgamation pain across the state saying several newly-amalgamated councils were facing similar ratepayer backlash.

“It’s any citizen’s right to express their concerns,” Mr Springborg said.

“And as a local member I take their views to parliament.

“I’m angry at the State Government as it’s been this forced amalgamation that’s dealt this council a difficult task... I blame the State Government for 90 per cent of what is going on.”

He said the cost of amalgamation had been “brutal” for the local community and that it wasn’t council’s fault.

Meanwhile, the Stanthorpe Chamber of Commerce, who asked council to take legal advice on capping the rates and was left unsatisfied with the response, has also contacted Mr Springborg.

Chamber president Norm Crisp said he had passed on all the correspondence and was waiting to hear back.

He said yesterday’s media reports demonstrated how widespread the issue was and he hoped the reporting would help bring the issue to more people’s attention.



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